Can R753 support a family of 5? Bathabile Dlamini thinks so

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Bathabile Dlamini
Bathabile Dlamini

It would cost a family of five at least R1146.57 a month to buy the most basic groceries, an investigation by Fin24 reveals.

This is at least 52% more than the R753 Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini claims is adequate to support an indigent household.

Fin24 embarked on a shopping trip to Shoprite in Mowbray in Cape Town to find out how much it would cost a family of five people to buy the bare necessities, including perishable and non-perishable items, for one month. The cheapest items on the shelves were selected and the quantities were conservative.

Fin24’s shopping bill came to R393.57 more than the poverty line cited by Dlamini.

In May, Dlamini said in response to a parliamentary question posed by the Democratic Alliance that the state pension is higher than the "upper bound poverty line” and that this poverty line is R753 in 2014 prices. 

“Hence these beneficiaries [of social grants] should have enough to buy adequate food as well as additional non-food items,” she said.

The DA asked Dlamini what factors government had taken into consideration when the April 1 increase in social grant payouts had been determined, and if she deemed the increase sufficient for grant recipients to meet their minimum nutritional requirements.

In her response, Dlamini said a budget of 8.2% was allocated for grant increases.

“This increase needs to provide for both demographic and economic factors. All these factors have a considerable influence in determining annual grant increases. However, these increases are constrained by the available budget,” Dlamini said.

The minister has since come under fire for her “insensitive responses” and the DA subsequently invited Dlamini to join them for a grocery shopping trip at the Shoprite in Soweto tomorrow to find out what R753 a month could buy.

“With rising food prices due to the drought and other factors‚ the minister’s claim is deeply insensitive and completely untrue‚” Bridget Masango, the DA’s spokesperson on social development, said.

“Whether she made a calculation error or simply never looks at invoices when doing shopping or checking into hotels has rendered her out of touch with the poor despite being the minister in charge of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Meanwhile, Dlamini is rumoured to have stayed at the luxury Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks in KwaZulu-Natal on 31 occasions, according to the DA.

“The DA urges Minister Dlamini to break her silence and make public who paid for these stays,” Masango said. – Fin24 

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